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Boys Town help line for kids may be expanding across Nebraska

Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 7:00 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Safe2Help Nebraska has proven to be a vital resource in its first year, and may soon be helping students in crisis beyond Douglas County.

The Safe2Help program is making it easier for students, their parents, and even school staff to report safety concerns.

“In the past, what would happen was, in the schools, each had their own way to report information or tips within the school districts. But what we developed and coordinated with the Safe2Help Nebraska, it provided basically a countywide anonymous tip line for all of the school districts to use,” said Denise Rieder, coordinator for the Douglas County School Threat Advisory Team.

Right now, Safe2Help is only in public schools; they’re working to expand to private schools as well.

The program officially kicked off in January 2020.

“We only had about three months where you know, the schools got to promote it and share it with their students,” Rieder said.

In 202, they receive 470 tips, a number they say is low but reflects a nationwide trend in lower reporting. According to their data, the top three problems being reported to Safe2Help Nebraska are bullying, drugs, and suicide threats, coming in at No. 1.

The Boys Town Hotline handles the communication.

“They have a mobile app, so they can download the app and make a report through that. They can make a phone call, there’s a number available to them as well. Or they can go on the Safe2Help Nebraska website,” said Ginny Gohr, with the hotline.

Callers will be connected with a crisis counselor rather than having to call 911 if there is a threat of self-harm. Currently in its pilot program, Safe2Help Nebraska is only in Douglas County, but a bill to expand the program statewide is making its way through the legislature.

“That’s what’s going to be nice, to get to these communities that are maybe lacking in the resources to help kids and families,” Gohr said. “This will be on that is available for them 24/7.”

The possibility of expanding and helping more kids has both Gohr and Rieder excited.

“We’ve seen the success, we’ve seen that it’s helped a lot of kids that are suffering from a lot of mental-health issues,” Gohr said.

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